Sea Cat missile
Sea Cat was a British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 short-range surface to air missile system intended to replace the ubiquitous Bofors 40 mm gun
Bofors 40 mm gun
The Bofors 40 mm gun is an anti-aircraft autocannon designed by the Swedish defence firm of Bofors Defence...

 aboard warships of all sizes. It was the world's first operational shipboard point-defence
Point-defence is the defence of a single object or a limited area, e.g. a ship, building or an airfield, now usually against air attacks and guided missiles...

 missile system and was designed so that the Bofors guns could be replaced with minimum modification to the recipient vessel using (originally) existing fire-control systems. A mobile land-based version of the system was known as Tigercat.


Sea Cat was designed by Short Brothers
Short Brothers
Short Brothers plc is a British aerospace company, usually referred to simply as Shorts, that is now based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Founded in 1908, Shorts was the first company in the world to make production aircraft and was a manufacturer of flying boats during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s...

 of Belfast for use against fast jet aircraft that were proving to be too difficult for the WWII-era Bofors guns to successfully intercept. The missile itself was based on the Shorts Green Light prototype, itself a development of the Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n Malkara
Malkara missile
The Malkara missile was one of the earliest anti-tank guided missiles . It was jointly developed by Australia and the United Kingdom between 1951 and 1954, and was in service from 1958 until gradually replaced by the Swingfire missile in the late 1960s...

 anti-tank missile. It replaced the Orange Nell development programme for a lighter weapon than the enormous Sea Slug missile
Sea Slug missile
Sea Slug was a first generation surface-to-air missile designed by Armstrong Whitworth for use by the Royal Navy...


Design Features

Sea Cat is a small, subsonic missile powered by a two-stage solid fuel rocket motor. It is steered in flight by four swept, cruciformly arranged wings and is stabilised by four small tail fins. It is guided by Command Line-Of-Sight (CLOS) via a radio-link; i.e. flight commands are transmitted to it from a remote operator with both the missile and target in sight.


All Sea Cat variants used a common 4-rail, manually-loaded, trainable launcher that incorporated the antennae for the radio command link. All that was required to fit the system to a ship was the installation of a launcher, the provision of a missile handling room and a suitable guidance system. Sea Cat was widely used in NATO and Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 navies that purchased British equipment and has been used with a wide array of guidance systems. The four systems used by the Royal Navy are described below.


This was the initial system, and was intended to replace the twin 40 mm Bofors Mark V gun and its associated fire-control systems. The original director was based on the STD (Simple Tachymetric Director) and was entirely visual in operation. The target was acquired visually with the missile being guided, via a radio link, by the operator inputting commands on a joystick. Flares on the missile's tail fins aided identifying the missile. The more advanced CRBF (Close Range Blind Fire) director equipped with spin-scanning radar Type 262 for automatic target tracking could also be used.

GWS-20 was trialled on board the Daring
Daring class destroyer (1949)
The Daring class was a class of eleven destroyers built for the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy . Constructed after World War II, and entering service during the 1950s, eight ships were constructed for the RN, and three ships for the RAN. Two of the RN destroyers were subsequently sold to and...

 class destroyer, and was subsequently removed. It was carried in active service by, (amongst others) Fearless
Fearless class landing platform dock
The Fearless class amphibious assault ships were the first purpose built amphibious warfare vessels in the Royal Navy. The class comprised only two ships: and ....

 class landing ships and Type 81 Tribal
Tribal class frigate
The Type 81, or Tribal class, was a class of seven general-purpose frigates for the Royal Navy designed during the 1950s that served throughout the 1960s and 1970s with limited service during the 1980s.-History:...

, updated Type 12 Whitby
Whitby class frigate
The Type 12 frigates of the Whitby class were a six-ship class of anti-submarine warfare frigates of the Royal Navy that entered service late in the 1950s. They were designed as first rate ocean-going convoy escorts in light of experience gained during World War II...

, Type 12I Rothesay
Rothesay class frigate
The Rothesay class, or Type 12M frigates were a class of frigates serving with the Royal Navy, South African Navy and the New Zealand Navy....

 and (originally) County class
County class destroyer
The County class was a class of guided missile destroyers, the first such vessels built by the Royal Navy. Designed specifically around the Sea Slug anti-aircraft missile system, the primary role of these ships was area air-defence around the aircraft carrier task force in the nuclear-war...

 escorts. It was originally intended that all C class
C class destroyer (1943)
The C class was a class of 32 destroyers of the Royal Navy that were launched from 1943 to 1945. The class was built in four flotillas of 8 vessels, the Ca, Ch, Co and Cr classes, ordered as the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th Emergency Flotillas respectively...

 destroyers should receive it and the class were prepared accordingly. In the event only HMS Cavalier and HMS Caprice received it, in 1966 refits.

GWS-20 saw active service in the Falklands war
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

 onboard the Fearless class and the Rothesay frigates HMS Plymouth
HMS Plymouth (F126)
HMS Plymouth is a Rothesay class frigate, which served in the United Kingdom Royal Navy from 1959 to 1988. She was named after the English city of Plymouth...

 and HMS Yarmouth, who retained the GWS-20 director when upgraded to GWS-22.


GWS-21 was the Sea Cat system associated with a modified Close Range Blind Fire analogue fire control director (CRBFD) with Type 262 radar. This offered manual radar-assisted (Dark Fire) tracking and guidance modes as well as 'eyeball' visual modes. It was carried as the design anti-aircraft weapon of the Type 81 Tribal
Tribal class frigate
The Type 81, or Tribal class, was a class of seven general-purpose frigates for the Royal Navy designed during the 1950s that served throughout the 1960s and 1970s with limited service during the 1980s.-History:...

 class frigate and on the first 4 County class destroyers.


GWS-22 was the Sea Cat system associated with the full MRS-3 fire control director with Type 903 radar and was the first ACLOS-capable (Automatic, Command Line-Of-Sight) Sea Cat. It was fitted to most of the Leander, Rothesay and County class escorts as they were refitted and modified in the 1970s, as well as the aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 HMS Hermes
HMS Hermes (R12)
HMS Hermes was a Centaur-class British aircraft carrier, the last of the postwar conventional aircraft carriers commissioned into the Royal Navy.-Construction and modifications:...

. It could operate in automatic radar-guided (Blindfire), manual radar-guided, manual CCTV-guided or, in an emergency, 'eyeball' guided modes. It saw active service in the Falklands onboard all these classes.


The final Royal Navy Sea Cat variant, this used the Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 Alenia Orion RTN-10x fire control system with Type 912 radar and was fitted only to the Type 21 frigate
Type 21 frigate
The Type 21 frigate or Amazon-class frigate was a Royal Navy general-purpose escort designed in the late 1960s, built in the 1970s and that served throughout the 1980s into the 1990s.-History:...

. This variant saw active service in the Falklands.


A land-based mobile version of Sea Cat based on a 3-round, trailer-mounted launcher towed by a Land Rover
Land Rover
Land Rover is a British car manufacturer with its headquarters in Gaydon, Warwickshire, United Kingdom which specialises in four-wheel-drive vehicles. It is owned by the Indian company Tata Motors, forming part of their Jaguar Land Rover group...

, and a second trailer carrying the fire control equipment. Tigercat was used exclusively within HM Forces by No.48 Squadron of the RAF Regiment
RAF Regiment
The Royal Air Force Regiment is a specialist airfield defence corps founded by Royal Warrant in 1942. After a 32 week trainee gunner course, its members are trained and equipped to prevent a successful enemy attack in the first instance; minimise the damage caused by a successful attack; and...

 between 1967 and 1978, being replaced in service by Rapier
Rapier missile
Rapier is a British surface-to-air missile developed for the British Army and Royal Air Force. Entering service in 1971, it eventually replaced all other anti-aircraft weapons in Army service; guns for low-altitude targets, and the English Electric Thunderbird, used against longer-range and...

. Tigercat ware also operated by Argentina, India, Iran, Jordan, South Africa and Qatar. Argentina deployed it operationally during the Falklands conflict. No kills were achieved and 7 units were captured by British forces.


Sea Cat became obsolete due to increasing aircraft speed and the introduction of supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

, sea-skimming anti-ship missiles. In these cases the subsonic, manually guided Sea Cat was totally unsuited to all but head-on interceptions and only with adequate warning.
Despite being obsolete, Sea Cat was still widely fielded by the Royal Navy during the Falklands war. Indeed, it was the sole anti-aircraft defence of many ships. However, unlike the modern and more complex Sea Dart
Sea Dart missile
Sea Dart or Guided Weapon System 30 is a British surface-to-air missile system designed by Hawker Siddeley Dynamics and built by British Aerospace from 1977...

 and Sea Wolf
Sea Wolf missile
Sea Wolf is a naval guided missile system designed and built by BAC, later to become British Aerospace Dynamics . It is an automated point-defence weapon system designed as a final line of defence against both sea-skimming and high angle anti-ship missiles and aircraft...

 systems, Sea Cat rarely misfired or refused to respond, in even the harshest conditions. It was capable of sustained action which compensated for its lack of speed, range, and accuracy, and more importantly, it was available in large numbers.

One confirmed "kill" of an Argentine
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 aircraft is directly attributed to this missile from over 80 launches, when on the 25 May HMS Yarmouth
HMS Yarmouth (F101)
HMS Yarmouth was the first Modified Type 12 frigate of the Rothesay class to enter service with the Royal Navy. From her commissioning in 1960, she performed in numerous roles, including the Third Cod War and the Falklands War....

shot down an A4C Skyhawk (C-319USN pic) flown by Teniente Tomás Lucero. Lucero ejected and was recovered by HMS Fearless
HMS Fearless (L10)
HMS Fearless was a Royal Navy ship which served from 1965 until 2002. One of two from the Landing Platform Dock class she was based in HMNB Portsmouth and saw service around the world over her 37 year life...


After the Falklands conflict, a radical and urgent re-appraisal of anti-aircraft weaponry was undertaken by the Royal Navy. This saw Sea Cat rapidly removed from service and replaced by modern weapons systems such as Goalkeeper
Goalkeeper CIWS
Goalkeeper is a Dutch close-in weapon system introduced in 1979 and in use , which primarily defends ships against incoming missiles and ballistic shells. This system consists of an autocannon and an advanced radar which in typically six seconds detects incoming fire, determines its trajectory,...

 CIWS, more modern 20 mm and 30 mm anti-aircraft guns, and new escorts carrying the Sea Wolf missile, including the vertical launch version.

The missiles were fitted to the four Swedish
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

Östergotland class destroyer
The Östergötland class were a group of destroyers built for the Swedish Navy in the late 1950's. They were smaller than the preceding Halland class destroyers and were decommissioned in 1982.-Ships:-References:...

In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s, replacing three Bofors L/70
Bofors 40 mm gun
The Bofors 40 mm gun is an anti-aircraft autocannon designed by the Swedish defence firm of Bofors Defence...

 guns (a more modern and heavier variant than the Royal Navy's L/60) with a single launcher on each ship. The Östergötland-class destroyers of late 1950s origin were retired in the early 1980s.

Sea Cat was mounted on all six "River"-class
River class destroyer escort
The River class was a class of six destroyer escorts operated by the Royal Australian Navy . Plans to acquire four vessels, based on the British Type 12M frigate, began in the 1950s. The first two vessels had some slight modifications to the design, while the next two underwent further changes...

 destroyer escort
Destroyer escort
A destroyer escort is the classification for a smaller, lightly armed warship designed to be used to escort convoys of merchant marine ships, primarily of the United States Merchant Marine in World War II. It is employed primarily for anti-submarine warfare, but also provides some protection...

s of the Royal Australian Navy
Royal Australian Navy
The Royal Australian Navy is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force: the Commonwealth Naval Forces...

 and was removed from service when the final ship of this class was decommissioned in the late 1990s. In their final variant, fire control was provided by a GWS-21 guidance system supported by a Mk 44 fire control computer. Secondary firing positions based on visual tracking of the target through binoculars mounted on a syncro-feedback mount was also available. HMAS Torrens
HMAS Torrens (DE-53)
HMAS Torrens was a River class destroyer escort of the Royal Australian Navy . Built as a replacement for , Torrens entered service in 1971, and was active until her decommissioning in 1998....

 was the final ship to live fire the system prior to its removal from service, and this was also the only time three missiles were on the launcher and fired in sequence, resulting in one miss and two hits on towed targets.


  • Argentine Army
    Argentine Army
    The Argentine Army is the land armed force branch of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic and the senior military service of the country.- History :...

  • Argentine Navy
    Argentine Navy
    The Navy of the Argentine Republic or Armada of the Argentine Republic is the navy of Argentina. It is one of the three branches of the Armed Forces of the Argentine Republic, together with the Army and the Air Force....

    , 2 Sea Cat quad launchers on cruiser ARA General Belgrano
    ARA General Belgrano
    The ARA General Belgrano was an Argentine Navy light cruiser in service from 1951 until 1982. Formerly the , she saw action in the Pacific theater of World War II before being sold to Argentina. After almost 31 years of service, she was sunk during the Falklands War by the Royal Navy submarine ...

     installed in 1967
  • Argentine Marines, used Tigercat launchers ( deployed during Falklands War
    Falklands War
    The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

     ) now replaced with RBS 70
    RBS 70
    RBS 70 is a man-portable air-defense system designed for anti-aircraft warfare in all climate zones and with little to no support from other forces. Originally designed and manufactured by the Swedish defence firm of Bofors Defence...

  • Royal Australian Navy
    Royal Australian Navy
    The Royal Australian Navy is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force: the Commonwealth Naval Forces...

  • Brazilian Navy
    Brazilian Navy
    The Brazilian Navy is a branch of the Brazilian Armed Forces responsible for conducting naval operations. It is the largest navy in Latin America...

  • Chilean Navy
    Chilean Navy
    -Independence Wars of Chile and Peru :The Chilean Navy dates back to 1817. A year before, following the Battle of Chacabuco, General Bernardo O'Higgins prophetically declared "this victory and another hundred shall be of no significance if we do not gain control of the sea".This led to the...

  • Indonesian Navy
    Indonesian Navy
    The role of the Indonesian Navy is to patrol of Indonesia's immense coastline, to ensure safeguard the territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone , to protect Indonesia's maritime strategic interests, to protect the islands surrounded Indonesia and to defend against seaborne threats. The TNI...

  • Indian Army
    Indian Army
    The Indian Army is the land based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. With about 1,100,000 soldiers in active service and about 1,150,000 reserve troops, the Indian Army is the world's largest standing volunteer army...

     - Tigercat
  • Indian Navy
    Indian Navy
    The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the armed forces of India. The President of India serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff , usually a four-star officer in the rank of Admiral, commands the Navy...

     - Seacat

  • Islamic Republic of Iran Navy
    Islamic Republic of Iran Navy
    The Iranian Navy has traditionally been the smallest branch of Iran's armed forces and is designed mainly for securing its own ports and coast.- Overview :...

     - Seacat
  • Islamic Republic of Iran Army
    Islamic Republic of Iran Army
    The Islamic Republic of Iran Army is the ground force of the Military of Islamic Republic of Iran. In Iran, it is also called Artesh, which is Persian for "army." As of 2007, the regular Iranian Army was estimated to have 465,000 personnel plus around 350,000 reservists for a total of 815,000...

     - Tigercat

  • Libyan Navy
    Libyan Navy
    The Libyan Navy was the maritime force of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, established in November 1962. It was a fairly typical small navy with a few missile frigates, corvettes and patrol boats to defend the coastline, but with a very limited self-defence capability...

  • Royal Malaysian Navy
    Royal Malaysian Navy
    The Royal Malaysian Navy is the naval arm of Malaysian Armed Forces. All commissioned ships of the RMN have the prefix KD , which means Royal Ship.-Straits Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve:...

  • Royal New Zealand Navy
    Royal New Zealand Navy
    The Royal New Zealand Navy is the maritime arm of the New Zealand Defence Force...

  • Royal Netherlands Navy
    Royal Netherlands Navy
    The Koninklijke Marine is the navy of the Netherlands. In the mid-17th century the Dutch Navy was the most powerful navy in the world and it played an active role in the wars of the Dutch Republic and later those of the Batavian Republic and the Kingdom of the Netherlands...

  • Nigerian Navy
    Nigerian Navy
    The Nigerian Navy is a branch of the Nigerian Armed Forces. The Nigerian Navy is among the largest Navies on the African continent, consisting of about 15,000 personnel, including those of the Coast Guard.-Brief History:...

  • Military of Qatar
    Military of Qatar
    The Qatar Armed Forces are the military forces of Qatar. The country maintains a modest military force of approximately 11,800 men, including an army , navy and air force . Qatar's defense expenditures accounted for approximately 4.2% of gross national product in 1993...

     - Tigercat

  • South African Army
    South African Army
    The South African Army is the army of South Africa, first formed after the Union of South Africa was created in 1910.The South African military evolved within the tradition of frontier warfare fought by commando forces, reinforced by the Afrikaners' historical distrust of large standing armies...

     - Tigercat

  • Swedish Navy
    Swedish Navy
    The Royal Swedish Navy is the naval branch of the Swedish Armed Forces. It is composed of surface and submarine naval units – the Fleet – as well as marine units, the so-called Amphibious Corps .In Swedish, vessels of the Swedish Navy are given the prefix "HMS," short for Hans/Hennes...

  • Royal Thai Navy
    Royal Thai Navy
    The Royal Thai Navy is the navy of Thailand and part of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, it was established in the late 19th century. Admiral Prince Abhakara Kiartiwongse is "The Father of Royal Thai Navy". Similar to the organizational structure of the United States, the Royal Thai Navy includes the...

  • Royal Air Force
    Royal Air Force
    The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

     - Tigercat
  • Royal Navy
    Royal Navy
    The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

     - Seacat

  • Navy of Venezuela
    Navy of Venezuela
    The navy of Venezuela is officially called the Bolivarian National Armada of Venezuela .It serves the purpose of defending the naval sovereignty of the country, including inland, fluvial security, it also serves to prevent illegal activities in the Venezuelan borders and contributes with...

  • Army of Zimbabwe - Tigercat

See also

  • Rainbow Codes
    Rainbow Codes
    The Rainbow Codes were a series of code names used to disguise the nature of various British military research projects. They were mainly used from after the Second World War until 1958, when they were replaced by an alphanumeric code system.-History:...

  • Bomb Alley video Lt Tomas Lucero rescued by HMS Fearless after being shot down by a Sea Cat fired from HMS Yarmouth
    HMS Yarmouth (F101)
    HMS Yarmouth was the first Modified Type 12 frigate of the Rothesay class to enter service with the Royal Navy. From her commissioning in 1960, she performed in numerous roles, including the Third Cod War and the Falklands War....

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.